Hygge Is Our Favorite New Way To Celebrate The Holidays—Just Like The Scandinavians Do It
This Christmas, let’s embrace hygge, the Danish term for “the art of being warm and cozy.” Hygge is all about comfort and well-being. It’s the way you feel when sipping mulled wine in front of a crackling fire with feet encased in woolen socks. It’s the warmth of cashmere against skin, the scent of cardamom and cinnamon permeating the kitchen, and best of all, it’s a reverence for measured pleasure. So indulge in a slice of cake, but don’t devour the whole thing; enjoy a convivial evening with close friends but forgo wild, dance-till-dawn parties. And while you can hygge alone, its true expression is in joining with loved ones over a simple feast. Because Christmas is meant to be festive, not stressful.
1. Make comfort food the main event.
While everyone else is serving the usual rich, unctuous party platters, go with something simple and hearty for your main dish. Take a cue from the Scandinavian kitchen, always so redolent of mustard, cardamom and all other spices designed to wake up the palate. We like corned beef, a deeply satisfying dish that will make your carnivorous guests happy, but will be different from the ubiquitous lechon and hamon that they will find elsewhere. Whip up a warm, homemade potato salad to complement it, and you’re all set. You don’t even have to make the corned beef yourself. The Plaza Catering has Roasted Corned Beef that comes with an array of side dishes like steamed carrots, cabbages and sugar beets. (www.theplazacatering.com)
2. Go ahead, take a shortcut.
Christmas is absolutely the time to make your family’s beloved heirloom dishes. But not everything on your table has to come from a long, complicated recipe! Karla Reyes of La Petite Fromagerie shares her recipe for Truffle Butter Pasta, an easy crowd pleaser that can be ready in just minutes. Drop 500 grams of pasta into salted boiling water and cook for eight to ten minutes (or simply follow package directions). Drain. Open a bottle of La Petite Fromagerie’s Truffle Butter, and mix into the warm pasta (you can add a little bit of the pasta water if you want more moisture). Finish off with some Parmesan cheese and freshly ground pepper, and serve. Isn’t it so easy? This Truffle Butter is a wonder. Made from French butter flown in weekly, with salt crunch and real truffles, it can elevate any dish from blah to beautiful. (lapetitefromagerie.ph)
3. Impress with a showstopping dish.
Every party needs at least one spectacular dish, and this is it. Baked Brie is the best way we know to transform mild-mannered cheese into a warm and gooey communal delight, and it is so easy to make. Wrap a small slab of Brie in puff pastry (you can buy this frozen at the supermarket). Brush with egg wash. Bake until the pastry turns golden brown, about ten minutes. Serve it hot, straight from the oven. There is nothing like the moment when you slice this open to release oozing, melting brie. Everyone will be in awe of your kitchen skills. Like the idea? You’re welcome.
4. Decorate “just enough’
A rosemary sprig tied with a bit of twine makes a pretty and aromatic accent for your place settings, and it’s so easy to do. Homespun and craftsy décor works well with the spirit of hygge, which is all about decorating “just enough.” Nothing should be too extravagant, over the top or flashy. Stylist Chichi Tullao of Happy Tummy Travels shows us how to create a table of understated elegance with minimal effort. The style elements are basic. A muted palette of grays, greens and bronze to pull the look together. Homemade wreaths made from dried leaves and branches add whimsy.
5. Serve a Pinoy cocktail.
Not strictly hygge, but it’s always great to celebrate with something unique to where you are. Proudly Promdi distributes premium local liquors like tapuey (an Ilocano rice wine) and bugnay (a berry wine) that you can drink straight or mix into a cocktail. As soon as your guests arrive, we suggest you serve a Tapuey Spritz, a light and effervescent cocktail that’s made just so: put three tablespoons tapuey in a flute glass, top with 1/4 cup Moscato, and garnish with dayap peel. Deliciously fizzy, it’s the perfect way to start the evening. You can also ask Proudly Promdi to set up a mobile bar so they can create bespoke drinks for your guests all through the night. (FB/IG: @proudlypromdi)
6. End on a sweet note.
Because desserts are always so decorative and irresistible, it’s worth it to set up a dessert table. But don’t feel that you have to make your desserts from scratch! Order from your favorite bakeshop or home baker, then all you have to do is to arrange them on the table. On this table: Mango Pavlova and Chocolate Mousse cakes from Tilde Hand Craft Café, and Tropical Fruitcake and Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cookies from Casa San Luis Pastries. (IG: @tildecafe | FB/IG: @casasanluis)
7. Entertain at Poblacion Dining Room
The ultimate stress-free party is the one you don’t have to organize yourself. So if you’re pressed for time, just book the private space at Poblacion Dining Room and ask French-trained chef Mickey Garcia to create a gorgeous spread just for you. Have a hygge holiday! (FB/IG: @poblacionph)
A longer version of this article appeared in FOOD Magazine, Issue 4, 2017
Photography by Jar Concengco IG: @campfiremedia
Styling by Chichi Yuvienco Tullao IG: @happytummytravels
Shot on location at Poblacion Dining Room
Tableware from Domesticity https://www.mydomesticity.com/
Christmas balls and decor from National Bookstore